In a complete lack of surprise, the United States Supreme Court has upheld the lower court's decision that California's attempt to ban the sale of violent games to minors is unconstitutional. The vote was seven to two, with Justices Thomas and Breyer dissenting. You can read the
full, massive PDF of the ruling here
, but here's the gist of it:
"Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas—and even social messages—through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player's interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection."
"...The State wishes to create a wholly new category of content-based regulation that is permissible only for speech directed at children. That is unprecedented and mistaken. This country has no tradition of specially restricting children's access to depictions of violence."
"California's claim that 'interactive' video games present special problems, in that the player participates in the violent action on screen and determines its outcome, is unpersuasive."
So +1 to freedom of speech! It's a good day for gamers - not because it's a good idea to expose children to games in which human entrails are playthings, but because (among other things) if each state had been allowed to create its own criteria for what's violent and what's not, it'd make selling such games nearly impossible.